The NBA Landscape Has Changed Entirely

By Steven Kishpaugh
Jul. 06, 2019

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports
Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Kawhi Leonard has become the most powerful man in the NBA. Through his influence, the landscape of the NBA has been altered in a way we have never seen. Through his influence, the Los Angeles Clippers have become the odds on favorite to win the NBA according to Caesar’s Sportsbook in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Not only did the Clippers snag the reigning Finals MVP and a top five player in the world in Kawhi Leonard, but arguably the best two way player in the NBA behind Leonard in Paul George. George, who finished 3rd in MVP voting last year, joins Leonard only a year after he declared his loyalty to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

It is not difficult to see why George would jump ship to play alongside one of the best players in the world. He grew up in Southern California, went to Fresno State to play basketball, and played alongside the most polarizing player in the league in Russell Westbrook.

Although Westbrook has averaged a triple double for the past THREE seasons, his efficiency has gone down since his first triple double season, which just so happens to be the year when he won NBA MVP. His VORP (value over replacement player) in his MVP winning season was 12.4, which lead the NBA. Last season, it was 5.6, less than half of his MVP season.

His true shooting percentage (a measure of shooting efficiency that takes into account 2 pointers, 3 pointers, and free throws) was 55.4% during his MVP season, while the percentage has dropped to 50.1% the previous season. Not the biggest decline in efficiency, but a noticeable one for sure.

George and Leonard are going to a team with arguably the best defense and bench in the NBA. PG Patrick Beverley is a two time All-Defense selection, SG Lou Williams is a three time 6th Man of the Year winner, and PF Montrezl Harrell averaged 16.6 PPG and 6.5 RPG coming off the bench. Leonard and George are multiple time defensive team selections too, in their own right.

But what about the rest of the league? The Houston Rockets arguably have the best backcourt in the NBA, the Golden State Warriors still have dominant backcourt in their own right, and that is not mentioning other improved teams such as the Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers. Hell, even the Milwaukee Bucks still have the reigning league MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Indiana Pacers will have a healthy core of Victor Oladipo, Malcolm Brogdon and Myles Turner.

I genuinely cannot remember a time where there was so much chaos in the NBA. Normally there is a super team that controls the league. Recently it was the Golden State Warriors, before them it was the Miami Heat led by LeBron James. You have other teams such as Kobe Bryant’s Lakers, Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, and the list goes on and on. There has not been a time in NBA history where there are numerous teams with a legitimate chance of winning the NBA championship.

And you know what? I am here for it.